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BECK: Hats off to JDA for job well done
Stanton Springs
Representatives of the Joint Development Authority present a check for $2.6 million to the Newton County Board of Commissioners from the sale of land in the Stanton Springs technology park. - photo by Courtesy of Newton County

Years ago, my father had the chance to invest in a few little companies called Yahoo!, Microsoft and Apple, among others, but he took a pass. 

It’s easy to see, now, how big of a mistake it was to not take the risk, because he would likely be a millionaire if he chose differently. Those businesses are worth billions of dollars today.

To this day, he’ll tell you he regrets not taking the chance, but as they say, “Hindsight is 20-20.” Fortunately, our family never suffered from the decision, as my father was, and still is, a hard worker and was able to provide our family with enough to get by and then some.

On the other hand, imagine what would have happened if those companies failed? My dad would have a whole different line of thinking, right?

The truth is, there’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with investing. It takes a lot of guts, faith and hard work, too.

In the late 1990s, Newton County partnered with Jasper, Morgan and Walton counties to make a multi-million dollar investment of its own — an investment that actually put the counties in a significant amount of debt — in an effort to bring the world’s top industries and best available jobs to the area. 

Despite a series of roadblocks and challenges that many believed would be impossible to overcome, the investment has finally paid off.

Tuesday night, Serra P. Hall, who is an industrial recruiter for the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton Counties, presented a check to Newton commissioners in the amount of $2.6 million — an example of the return on investment — from the latest data center property sale. The significance of this amount is tied to the aforementioned debt. The $2.6 million lifted Newton County out of the hole, meaning every penny received from the billion-dollar companies rooted in Stanton Springs from this point forward will be profit. 

As with my father, Newton County could have passed on the opportunity to invest in the business venture. Our leaders could have simply said, “No, let’s figure out a financially safer play.”

It took a lot of work from our local leaders, including Hall and others aligned with the JDA, to make Stanton Springs and the multi-county investment a success. In fact, nearly a decade went by before a significant company chose to locate to the area. 

Think about that. A decade! Most people would have folded and said, “We tried and failed. Let’s do something different.” But the JDA never wavered and never lost sight of its mission.

For that, on behalf of our newspaper staff, I want to congratulate the JDA on a job well done and commend our local leaders for their efforts in bringing world-class industries and job opportunities to our home.

Taylor Beck is editor and publisher of The News. Reach him at